Michigan residents and visitors will begin saving $2 a night at state forest campgrounds this year.

The lower rates were discussed recently by Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division, and Lori Burford, DNR encroachment specialist, with lawmakers on the state House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee, the Midland Daily News reported.

“Camping is one of Michigan’s traditional family pastimes and keeping it affordable for residents and visitors is another step helping us in our state’s recovery,” said Rep. Joel Johnson, a member of the House committee. “With so many other costs increasing every time we turn around, it’s a breath of fresh air for the price to actually go down for people to enjoy Michigan’s wonderful forest campgrounds.”

The fee reduction at state forest campgrounds was made to align those costs with fees at state parks and recreation areas offering similar amenities.

Under the new fee structure:

  • Most state campgrounds will have a $13 per site, per night fee rate.
  • Campgrounds identified as serving equestrian and off-road-vehicle recreation trails, and the semi-modern Houghton Lake state forest campground, will charge $17 per site, per night – a $3 reduction.
  • Canoe, trail and group campsites remain at $6 per person per night.
  • Cabins remain at a $65 per night.

Information for most of the state’s campground facilities, including reservations, is available at the DNR’s online system, www.midnrreservations.com.

The second part of the committee meeting focused on the department’s Encroachments Enforcement Resolution Initiative, which is intended to resolve more than 2,100 documented instances of private property owners’ unauthorized use or occupation of public land, such as fences and signs to parts of homes built on public land.

The initiative is an effort to resolve the unauthorized uses of public land at a minimum of cost to property owners and without fear of penalties by allowing them to apply to have their cases resolved during an amnesty period through Dec. 31.

“So often it seems the state just comes in with heavy-handed rules and regulations, but here the department seems to be willing to work with people,” said Johnson, R-Clare. “We will see how it goes over the next couple of months, and if there are problems that come up for anyone going through the process I encourage them to let me know.”

Property owners who can show the encroachment was in place prior to March 1, 1973, can have property transferred to their ownership with a new property survey and boundaries. Structural encroachments that occurred after March 1, 1973, will be resolved through a streamlined land sale process.

Non-structural encroachments — such as fences, gardens, sheds and other non-permanent structures — that occurred on public land after March 1, 1973, will have to be removed so the land is returned to public use.

More information on the encroachment resolution initiative can be found at www.michigan.gov/dnr-encroachment.